Phenomenology and predisposing factors of morbid jealousy in a psychiatric outdoor: a cross-sectional, descriptive study

Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2017 Jul-Dec;8(2):129-135. doi: 10.5958/2394-2061.2017.00008.8. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


Background: Jealousy in a sexual relation has some advantage that it ensures propagation of one's own gene as put by evolutionary psychologists. However, if this belief is based on unfounded evidence it may impair the relationship between partners and may be extremely distressful. Morbid jealousy may present as obsession, overvalued idea, or delusion as one of the symptoms in different psychiatric disorders.

Aim: The aim of the study was to find the frequency of patients with morbid jealousy presenting in the Department of Psychiatry of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), the psychiatric diagnoses of such patients, frequency of different forms of morbid jealousy (obsession, overvalued idea, and delusion). Also, to assess predisposing or triggering factors for jealousy and to assess for suicidality in such patients and their partners.

Materials and methods: All patients attending the Department of Psychiatry, PMCH were administered a screening questionnaire and if they qualified they were further administered the operational criteria for morbid jealousy. The psychiatric diagnosis was confirmed with the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems: Diagnostic Criteria for Research (ICD-10: DCR). Each patient was then administered a rating scale to quantify the psychopathology.

Results: Out of 970 patients who attended outpatient department, 658 patients were administered the screening questionnaire, 174 qualified who were later assessed with the operational criteria for morbid jealousy. Fifty patients who fulfilled the criteria were assessed. The mean age of presentation for both sexes were 36.44 year (SD=13.12 years). Morbid jealousy was found to be twice as common in males as compared in females. Highest prevalence was found among participants who had higher secondary education, belonged to middle socioeconomic status, and having psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia followed by depression. Delusional jealousy was the commonest followed by overvalued idea and obsession. A total of 20% of patients reported substance abuse like alcohol, cannabis, nicotine etc. either currently or in the past. Triggering factors found were spouse working away from home, interaction with opposite sex, attractiveness as perceived by the person with morbid jealousy. Females either as patients of morbid jealousy or as partners of a morbidly jealous spouse, carried the higher risk of suicide as compared to males.

Keywords: Delusion; Depression; Obsession; Schizophrenia; Suicide.